In recent years, growth in the GTA has caused many problems. It is destroying some neighborhoods and building uncomfortably dense centers creating traffic gridlock and unlivable communities with few, if any, public amenities. Canada is also in the grip of a housing affordability crisis that has seen house prices triple in the past 10 years.
A Housing Affordability Task Force was formed by the Ontario government to generate ideas to address the housing crisis. It is interesting to note the task force was made up of primarily developers, financial intuitions and governmental agencies. Missing from the table are the most affected stakeholders such as non-profits, concerned citizen groups and the general public.
In March, the Mississauga Residents Association Network (MIRANET) along with more than 50 residents’ associations, non- partisan, and non-profit groups from across the GTA joined together to form A Better GTA (http://www.abettergta.com). A Better GTA was formed to collectively raise concerns of residents across the GTA who believe that there exists a lack of a sensible growth and vision, along with overdevelopment of our communities.
A Better GTA, including MIRANET, wrote to Premier Doug Ford on March 1st to outline the need for full transparency requested a deferral of any implementation of the findings of the task force report, until residents and the private sector had an equal opportunity to address their concerns and offer alternative solutions.
The current housing task force report is built on a false premise and its recommendations would not solve the problem. Instead, the recommendations would result in weakening the power of municipalities and citizens to help determine the nature of the communities that they live in.
From the 62 task force recommendations that the city reviewed, they were opposed to 29, in support of 19 and neutral to 14.
The solutions to the GTA’s issues with housing, transportation, climate management, and more are not out of our reach. We can build a great city that provides for all of this and addresses our affordability problems. However, first, we ask that your government defer any further action on implementing any legislation which would enact the current TOC policies or the Task Force report. This concern is clearly echoed by many municipal councils and Mayoral associations throughout the GTA. There is no rush. Give residents the opportunity to make our case.
A comprehensive, win-win and durable solution must involve ALL stakeholders. It is not too late to get community buy-in to solve the affordability crises. A Summit is critical to bring all affected stakeholders to the table and come up with reasonable solutions that work for all. This issue concerns us all. Get your voices heard and reach out to your MPP.
MIRANET is greatly concerned about recent statements in the news by former Councilor Karen Ras concerning workplace harassment. Various news outlets have reported disturbing alleged behaviour by a City Councilor that resulted in a police investigation. No criminal charges were filed, and the incident was buried. MIRANET believes the Mayor, Councilors and the Integrity Commissioner should and must be held accountable to the constituents they represent and all the residents of Mississauga.
Why was the workplace harassment not investigated by the Integrity Commissioner and the Mayor in April of last year? A toxic work environment is detrimental to elected officials, City staff, and the public they are meant to serve. It seems that the complaints process of the City of Mississauga is broken. Where was City leadership?
What is the point of having a Municipal Code of Conduct, as well as a Governance Committee, if procedures are not applied and the committee is not consulted? Governing around a myriad of different voices and opinions is a challenge at best, but civility is the least that the public should expect from their elected officials. Mississauga citizens deserve answers, apologies, positive change and above all transparency.
MIRANET will be watching closely as this story unfolds.
Chris Mackie, member of MIRANET’s Municipal Finance Committee reflects on the actions of the City of Mississauga’s Budget Committee.
What’s wrong with the City’s Budget Committee? It’s not working effectively.
Councilors listen to staff presentations and occasionally ask questions. Most Councilors appear poorly prepared. Some clearly have not studied the material included on the agenda. About three regularly raise issues and question staff.
The committee’s poor performance worsens when reports containing big ticket items are adopted without debate. This occurred last week when $65 million was added to the Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services (MFES) ten-year capital budget without discussing the report. Written questions submitted by MIRANET did not appear to have been considered by committee members. The MFES report was adopted without discussion.
What is wrong with this scenario? By not discussing this and other reports Budget Committee is allowing senior staff to make decisions for it. That’s not good enough. It’s unfair to taxpayers. It’s not good governance. Councilors are elected to make these decisions, not staff. Budget Committee should review all staff recommendations that impact the budget and property taxes. Budget Committee should be the gatekeeper of the City’s finances. It is not. Finance staff are.
Council has a fiduciary responsibility for the well being of the City. Several Councilors ignore their responsibility and only take an interest in issues that affect their ward.
This is not good enough for Canada’s sixth largest City. The Committee needs to improve its performance.
Here’s a suggestion. Holding Budget Committee immediately following a four-hour General Committee is not a great idea. Brains are tired. Improve the committee’s scheduling. Budget Committee is too important to be treated as an appendix to General Committee.
As of Thursday, May 6, at 8 a.m., all 11 mass vaccine clinics in Peel Region will accept bookings for individuals who live in Peel and are 18 years of age and older at the time of vaccination.
This expansion opens eligibility for 50,000 residents who do not live in hotspots and have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated and makes all Peel residents who are 18 years or older, eligible for vaccination.
As one of the hardest hit communities in the province, this announcement extends the vital protection provided by vaccination to all adult Peel residents.
How to Book
NEW: Residents 18-49 – non-hotspot
Residents of Peel who are aged 18-49 but do not live in a provincially-identified hotspot postal code must book an appointment online using the Region of Peel’s booking system. If you need help booking, call the Region of Peel COVID-19 Vaccination Line at 905-791-5202, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.
The postal codes for this booking system are as follows:
L5E, L5G, L5H, L5J
Residents 18+ – hotspot
As announced on Monday by the province, Peel residents 18+ and that live in provincially-identified hotspot postal codes should continue to use Ontario’s vaccine booking system or call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).
The provincial hotspot postal codes are as follows:
L4T, L4W, L4X, L4Z
L5A, L5B, L5C, L5K, L5L, L5M, L5N, L5R, L5V, L5W
L6P, L6R, L6S, L6T, L6V, L6W, L6X, L6Y, L6Z
All residents 50+
All residents who are 50+ can use Ontario’s booking system, regardless of postal code.
Given the interest and demand to book appointments at our clinics, residents are encouraged to book as soon as possible. We ask for patience in booking as given the scale of this effort, there may be wait times to access the website or call centres. Appointments may only be available on a timeline beyond the next few days as we work to provide this protection to all of our residents. In almost all cases, the fastest way to book an appointment is online, which provides real-time availability. Appointments for all Peel postal codes can also be booked at hospital run clinics in Peel.
Adults 65 years or older and people of any age who have transportation barriers can use TransHelp, free of charge, to get to their vaccine appointment. You don’t need to be a TransHelp client to use this service. Call 905-791-1015 at least 48 hours before your appointment to make your booking.
Homebound residents who live in Peel and cannot physically leave their home to receive the vaccine due to medical, social, or other cognitive reasons can complete this form and they will be contacted to book an in-home appointment.
Visit peelregion.ca for regular updates on priority groups and clinic locations and follow @regionofpeel on social media for news on COVID-19 and vaccine availability.
Region of Peel
The Region of Peel works with residents and partners to create a healthy, safe and connected Community for Life for approximately 1.5 million people and over 175,000 businesses in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the Town of Caledon. Peel’s services touch the lives of residents every day. For more information about the Region of Peel, explore peelregion.ca and follow us on Twitter @regionofpeel and Instagram @peelregion.ca.
As of Friday, April 9 at 8:00 a.m., all vaccine clinics in Peel Region will be accepting bookings for individuals 50 years or older within select postal codes to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
The select communities include:
L4T, L4W, L4X, L4Z
L5A, L5B, L5C, L5K, L5L, L5M, L5N, L5R, L5V, L5W
L6P, L6R, L6S, L6T, L6V, L6W, L6X, L6Y, L6Z
This eligibility expansion also marks our progression into phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out, offering vaccines to more residents and made available in more accessible ways. All vaccine clinics in Peel region will be taking bookings for the following groups who wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:
Adults 50 years and older within select postal codes
Indigenous Adults and their household members 18 years of age or older
Active health care workers
People with highest and high-risk health conditions
Adult recipients of home care
Book an appointment online. The fastest way to book is online. Residents without internet access who need assistance booking can call 905-791-5202.
Information on how to prepare for an appointment and what to expect at a clinic is available at peelregion.ca/COVID19vaccine. This is a one-stop spot for Peel residents to book an appointment to get vaccinated at the clinic of their choice when it’s their turn.
Adults 65 years or older and people of any age who have transportation barriers can use TransHelp, free of charge, to get to their vaccine appointment.
You don’t need to be a TransHelp client to use this service. Call 905-791-1015 at least 48 hours before your appointment to make your booking.
Visit peelregion.ca for regular updates on priority groups and clinic locations and follow @regionofpeel on social media for news on COVID-19 and vaccine availability.
The following is an update from the City of Mississauga.
Effective today, Peel residents aged 65 years and older are eligible to book vaccine appointments at hospital vaccination clinics in Peel. When the provincial booking system is ready, Public Health Vaccination Clinics will also accept this group for vaccination. Public Health Clinics will continue to focus on vaccinating eligible groups, including residents aged 70 years and older.
Access to booking systems for both Public Health Vaccination Clinics and hospital clinics is available on the Region of Peel website. The Region of Peel Vaccine Line can also assist residents who have questions or challenges related to getting vaccinated – Region of Peel COVID-19 Vaccination Line at 905-791-5202 (open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., 7 days a week). Seniors who have challenges getting to and from the vaccine clinic can use TransHelp. Call 905-791-1015 at least 48 hours before your appointment to make your booking. You don’t need to be a TransHelp client to use this service.
Vaccine supply is improving and Peel’s hospital partners are able to open a limited number of spots in their clinics for vaccination of adults over the age of 80. Residents of Peel that meet this age criteria, based on year of birth (i.e. born 1941 or earlier), can visit the following websites to book in at their clinic of preference. These websites are being made available to speed up the vaccination of this important group in our community and will remain active until a centralized Provincial booking system launches.
Any resident of Peel (including Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon) born in 1941 or earlier, can visit the following websites to book or pre-register at their clinic of preference. Please note that appointments may be limited due to supply.
Supply at Region of Peel-run community clinics remains limited and currently being prioritized to high-priority workers. When supply improves, a program to support housebound seniors and online booking for 80+ will be launched at these community clinics, increasing choice and access for the Peel community.
“We continue to ramp up our system here in Peel to deliver more vaccines, every day, to those who need them the most. We’re excited to be able to start vaccinating our community, offering protection to those who are rendered most vulnerable by age. While supply and appointments remain limited, we continue to ask for patience as we begin this journey together. I want to thank all our residents and workers in Peel for your support; if you are eligible, please sign up to get your shot to get protected and support our efforts to keep each other safe and end the pandemic in our community. ” – Dr. Lawrence Loh, Medical Officer of Health, Region of Peel
As Dr. Loh indicates in the quote above, please note that appointment availability and supply are limited at this time but it is expected this will continue to ramp up over the coming weeks.
With the uncertain economic situation facing the City of Mississauga, MIRANET has been diligent in ensuring City Hall respects taxpayer dollars.
A special meeting of Council on Wednesday February 24 spent 40 minutes discussing the 2021 budget recommended by Budget Committee. Most of that time was taken up with objections to councillor Saito’s motion to reduce the car allowance of $17,400 by one-third.
(Click here for the full article in The Mississauga News.)
Councillors Dasko, Starr and Mahoney all vehemently opposed the reduction. MIRANET was dismayed by the sense of entitlement implicit in their remarks. The councillors claimed to be busy meeting and helping constituency members (Starr), distributing “slow down” signs (Dasko) and collecting garbage (Dasko).
Councillor Saito gave a spirited response. She pointed out that Budget Committee and not Council was was the venue to raise questions and debate budget issues. None of the three had raised objections when her motion was first introduced. The issue was voted on separately from the main budget and carried on a split vote of 6-6.
All other aspects of the budget were approved. The storm-water charge increases to $110.40 per billing unit, applicable to most single family detached homes. The storm-water operating budget was approved at $43,545,700.
The net operating budget for 2021of $554.3 million is an increase of approximately $16.9 million from 2021. The infrastructure and debt retirement levy remains at 2.0 percent and accounts for $10,750,800 of the increase.
Finance staff and the executive management team deserve credit for moderating the financial impact of COVID19 upon the City’s finances in 2020. The outlook for 2021 remains uncertain.
The Toronto Star carried an article about the proposed transformation of the Dixie Mall area. Lakeview Ratepayers Association – a member of MIRANET – expressed concerns through its president, Deborah Goss.
Click here for the article. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
MIRANET Chair Sue Shanly was quoted in The Pointer in an article on the Burnhamthorpe Outdoor Rink. She said,
“How could the design for a new pool and reconstruction of the Burnhamthorpe Community Centre be approved before sufficient, meaningful consultation took place? Many residents feel that there’s been a lack of transparency and consultation over the past two years. No one that spoke with us had heard about this prior to September 2020.”
Is Chic Murray outdoor arena slated for demolition in 2021 without public notification or consultation??
Chic Murray is known as one of the best outdoor ice rinks in the entire GTA. It has a superior ice pad and a covered roof which allows for outdoor skating in most weather conditions. It was put in at considerable cost in 2004 and has been in constant use ever since. It is highly treasured, extremely rare and very valuable for a number of reasons.
Located centrally in a densely populated area of Mississauga, this extremely popular facility has given residents the opportunity to enjoy a fresh air activity at reasonable cost. The roof structure allows skaters to enjoy the rink even in inclement weather for most of the winter. In addition to providing beneficial exercise and exposure to fresh air and sunlight, which helps to keep residents happy and healthy, it also allows skaters to meet up with friends, family and neighbours for a fun skate or a game of pick-up hockey. In other words, the arena promotes physical as well as mental well-being and healthy communities during winter months. This is especially important for town house and apartment dwellers whose outdoor recreation options are limited in the winter.
What is the reason for this demolition? The Chic Murray arena is one of two outdoor arenas in Mississauga. It is an in-demand outdoor winter facility whose loss would be keenly felt. It is irreplaceable. Covid 19 has had a devastating impact on the City’s budget which the taxpayer will be paying for many years to come. Perhaps the City can figure out a plan to incorporate the Arena into its new proposed development. Demolishing and then re-building the arena elsewhere seems to be a huge waste of the taxpayers’ dollar.
Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) is gravely concerned by methods employed by the Provincial government to circumvent public consultation on the proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, outlined in Schedule 6 of Bill 229. By sneaking Schedule 6 into omnibus budget measures Bill 229, the Province is demonstrating a lack of respect for the public, conservation authorities, municipalities, and democracy.
The entirety of Schedule 6 displays a lack of scientific literacy and calls the Provincial government’s judgment into question. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s failure to recognize the limits of its own expertise has resulted in a document that runs counter to the promises of their political platform in the 2018 election. Instead of less red tape, we get more bureaucracy; instead of shorter permit approval times, we get longer; instead of clarity and transparency, we get chaos and confusion; instead of benefitting the many, it benefits the few; instead of strengthening the conservation authorities’ ability to protect and preserve our watersheds for present and future generations, it ties their hands and diminishes their power.
Schedule 6 has no place in Bill 229.
Proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act would authorize the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to issue an order to take over and decide a development permit application in place of a conservation authority. Additionally, a permit applicant can request that the Minister review a conservation authority’s decision about a permit application (approved with conditions or denied), at which point the Minister can make any decision, including issuing a permit. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
In the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Ford has repeatedly stated that he is guided by the advice of Public Health officials as he is not a scientist and they are the experts. The same reasoning should hold true for the management of our natural resources, particularly within the watersheds that sustain us. Do we believe that the judgment of a political appointee, with little to no scientific literacy and no understanding of how watersheds work, should replace that of an expert whose decisions are guided by science and best practices?
The scientists, engineers, and technicians responsible for the management of our watersheds collect and analyze data to use in decision-making and the development of future management plans. This information is also used to assess the efficacy of ongoing programs and correct course as necessary. These experts must demonstrate the logic of their thinking to both the public and their fellow scientists. The success or failure of their decisions can be measured by numbers and statistics, which can be made available for public scrutiny. As such, their decision-making processes are far more robust and transparent than those of the Provincial government.
We expect the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to make objective and transparent decisions that ensure the long-term health of our watersheds for us and future generations; however, history has shown that politicians are less than objective and transparent in their decision-making, as they bend to the will of their political leaders and their own agendas for re-election. Do we as Ontarians believe this is transparent and effective governance?
The proposed changes may also lead to unintended consequences, resulting in additional costs and more red tape:
If the Minister of Natural Resources steps in to review an application (either at the request of the permit applicant or at the Minister’s discretion) another level of bureaucracy is added to the permit application process.
The deadline for a ministerial decision is thirty (30) days, in which time the applicant may either receive a decision or no communication at all, an indication that the Minister has declined to review the application. What remains unclear, however, is who will actually be conducting the review. Will additional staff need to be hired to complete the review and advise the Minister? Will these staffers be political appointees or will they be subject matter experts?
If the Ministry hires subject matter experts whose decisions are based on science, and therefore apolitical, does this not mean their decisions will be similar, if not identical, to those of the conservation authority? Is this not a duplication of services, loathed by the Premier, who promised to cut costs and red tape? The Ford government voted Bill 108 into law, ostensibly to reduce bureaucracy and permit approval times. These proposed changes will introduce more red tape, increase wait times for permit approval, and increase costs for both the developer and the provincial government.No mention has been made how these additional positions will be funded.
If the Ministry hires political appointees to conduct these reviews and their decisions differ dramatically from those of the conservation authority and other subject matter experts, in the absence of any publically available written justification, can we then assume that the science has been ignored? In such cases, is it fair for affected stakeholders (neighbouring landowners, municipalities, and watersheds) to assume the burden of environmental and economic risks resulting from such decisions? How will the Province compensate watershed residents if their decisions result in harm to their health and/or livelihoods? Why should tax-payers foot the bill for poor decision-making?
How will development charges be negotiated – as part of the review process or will this still be done at the Municipal level? At what point in the process will this take place? Will the Ministry decide to circumvent all municipal level negotiation and decision-making? If this is the case, will the Ministry then take on the financial liability associated with overseeing the development charge repayment schedule?
What will happen to the public consultation process? If developers can get a second hearing at the ministerial level, why does the same not apply to conservation authorities and the public? Why are developers given greater consideration? If not the conservation authority, who speaks for the residents of a watershed? Can a system in which the wealthy and powerful get preferential treatment, and all others are treated as second class citizens, be considered just?
What about impacts to project financing? In an effort to adapt to the new challenges posed by climate change, banks have changed their lending practices to assess not just financial risk, but also environmental and social risk. In the absence of a permit approval from the scientists and engineers employed by the conservation authority, it is now the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry who will grant this permit.
If the conservation authority has already conducted its assessment and declined the application, how will this be interpreted by a potential lender? Will the assessment of the conservation authority be made available to the bank free of charge or does it remain their intellectual property, since they do not receive funding from the Province? Does the Province have the authority to confiscate the research of the conservation authority and do with it what it wishes?
Banks are not charities and have a fiduciary obligation to their shareholders to minimize risk and maximize return. If the bank is aware of the potential environmental and social risks posed by the project, what is the likelihood that they will approve such a loan?
In the absence of a risk assessment from either the conservation authority or the Ministry (because it has exercised its new right to step in and shut down the permitting process) who bears the costs of risk assessment?
Is it the Ministry? If so, how will they maintain their thirty (30) day timeline for approval? Will they have to hire subject matter experts (if they have not already done so)?
Is it the developer? In which case, how will they finance such an expensive undertaking? Will this be an obstacle to individuals and small-scale developers and preclude them from participating in the market? Will this mean that only those development companies with deep pockets and influence will survive and thrive?
Is it the bank? Since this is an unlikely scenario, what is the eventual outcome of the Province’s ill-conceived changes to the Conservation Authority Act: more bureaucracy; long wait times; attrition of individuals and small development companies; assumption of financial, environmental, and social risks by municipalities; and a permitting regime where chaos and confusion are the order of the day?
Have we not learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in which the Ford government ignored the advice of medical and other experts? Their mismanagement had direct consequences: further spread of the virus, continued economic uncertainty, an escalating death count, and more families grieving the loss of loved ones. If the current Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry demonstrates the same zeal and competence as his colleagues in the portfolios of Health and Long-Term Care, rejecting the data, evidence and counsel of scientists and ignoring best practice in favour of political decision-making, we as a province will be taking a giant step backward. This is regressive not progressive!
Proposed changes would remove the un-proclaimed provision for conservation authorities to issue stop work orders, a new tool in our enforcement toolbox that we had long requested from the province. This tool will provide the ability to stop significant threats to life, property and environmentally sensitive areas before having to resort to costly fines and prosecution. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
Conservation authorities have fought for and won the provision to enforce stop work orders and are uniquely qualified to put such tools to good use. The ability to issue stop work orders allows them to limit potential damage before it is too late. Costly fines and prosecution are all well and good but if irreparable damage has been done to the watershed there is no going back. Conservation authorities make these decisions based on scientific evidence as well as best practices in watershed management. These tools are never used unless absolutely necessary. This provision must remain, removing it is effectively tying the hands of conservation authorities.
The Credit Valley Conservation Board acts on behalf of the watershed and residents to ensure good corporate operations, management, and governance. Proposed changes would direct board members to act only on behalf of the municipality they represent, rather than on behalf of the entire watershed and residents. This is contrary to proper board governance and contradicts recent recommendations by Ontario’s Auditor General. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
The direction to conservation authority board members to act only on behalf of the municipality they represent is frankly baffling; most people understand the need for holistic management of our natural resources. The fact that our government doesn’t is shocking: the absence of even the most rudimentary understanding of how our ecosystems function demonstrates their lack of intellectual fitness for this job. They can be forgiven their lack of knowledge, one can’t be expected to know everything; but faced with the challenge of revising the Conservation Authority Act, instead of addressing their knowledge deficits they blithely proceeded to propose legislation (with very limited public consultation) which would take us back almost seventy (70) years. Such willful ignorance and hubris is unforgiveable in a public servant, let alone an entire Ministry.
Watershed management requires decision making beyond the confines of just one municipality; nature does not respect municipal boundaries. Poor decision making in one municipality has the potential to create irreversible damage elsewhere within the watershed. Potential harms include: flooding, groundwater contamination, excessive groundwater pumping leading to lower water tables and land subsidence, slope destabilization, increased surface water run-off, flow path alteration for both ground and surface waters, silting up of rivers and streams, drier soils more prone to erosion, and loss of wetlands.
Good resource management practices require a holistic point of view: water and air are shared resources, not just between residents of a municipality but between everyone. The wild fires in California, Oregon, and Washington State are a case in point: they affected air quality across Canada, not just in neighbouring British Columbia, which at one point had the worst air quality in the world. Particulates from fires in California had direct impacts on Canadians: both the healthy, who were advised to remain indoors to reduce their exposure, and the ill, particularly those with asthma and lung diseases, who may have found themselves struggling to breathe under those conditions for weeks at a time.
Similar to forest fires, the impacts of wetlands go far beyond their watersheds. They are invaluable in the fight against climate change: wetlands are a sink for atmospheric carbon. But this is not all they do. Wetlands perform the vital services of water purification, groundwater recharge and stream-flow maintenance, and shoreline stabilization. They also provide food and habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. In some cases, they are the last refuge for rare and endangered species. By preserving, instead of developing wetlands in Durham Region, we can ensure that they will continue to perform these vital services, not just for the people of Pickering, but for the people of Southern Ontario and beyond.
Some of the proposed changes to the composition of the conservation authority board as well as its functioning are particularly troubling:
The term of the Chair or Vice Chair is limited to one year and to no more than two consecutive terms. While term limits can have a positive effect on governance, particularly at Provincial and Federal levels, it may not have the same effect in a conservation authority. Any incoming Chair or Vice Chair will most likely not be a subject matter expert and thus have a steep learning curve during the first six months or year of their term. Upon achieving a sufficient level of knowledge, they should be allowed to put this newly acquired knowledge and experience to good use. Rotating Chairs out on an annual basis is disruptive and highly inefficient. Each incoming Chair would have a period of six months or less during which to make well-informed decisions on behalf of watershed residents. A cynic might think this change to the Conservation Authority Act was deliberately designed to hobble the Chair in the execution of their duties.
The Minister has the discretion to appoint a representative of the agricultural sector to be a member of the conservation authority board. There are no further details as to what qualifications this representative must have or who they represent: big agriculture, organic farmers, biodynamic farmers, or family farms. There are also no stipulations as to the type of farming they need be involved in: arable farming, livestock farming, or mixed farming. Perhaps none of these distinctions matter as long as they are friends of political leaders.
The Minister will now be allowed to dictate the standards and requirements for municipal and other programs and services. By what right does the Minister dictate how and what services and programs are delivered when they provide NO funding to support them?
The proposed changes will also limit a conservation authority’s powers to study and investigate a watershed in order to provide programs and services that will directly support the conservation, restoration, development, and management of its natural resources. Instead, their new mandate will be to engage in research and study to support the development of programs and services which have been dictated by the Minister. In other words: in a time of climate crisis, the Provincial government would like LESS and not more scientific data and seeks to direct the research activities of an organization for which it is not funding.
To quote the Premier: “Stick with the job you were hired for…..don’t start pretending” you’re a scientist or a professional engineer “because I can tell you, you aren’t.”
Consequential changes to the Planning Act would bar conservation authorities from appealing a municipal planning decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), unless requested through an agreement with the municipality or the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This tool is a necessary but seldom used tool in our toolbox. This change would also remove our right to appeal planning decisions as a landowner. This is of significant concern to conservation authorities as well as Credit Valley Conservation which owns and manages over 7,000 acres of land for habitat protection, community recreation and flood hazard management. (https://cvc.ca/conversations/conservation-matters)
The new Planning Act would strip conservation authorities of the right to appeal. This means that individuals and developers motivated by profit for themselves and their organizations, which is perfectly legal and acceptable in a free market economy, have greater rights than organizations representing current and future generations of people living within these watersheds. While both food and shelter are basic needs, without water shelter becomes pointless. This legislation could imperil our sources of food and water in order to benefit those who seek to profit from building shelter. We are trading the long-term health and sustainability of our watersheds (which benefits the many) in exchange for short-term profits for developers (the few). A poor bargain by any estimation.
Let’s not have another disastrous short-term decision, such as the one that the Harris government made in 1999 to sell the 407 ETR for $3.1 billion to reduce the deficit ahead of an election. Today the 407 is worth an estimated $30 billion. Imagine the critical transportation infrastructure that could be better maintained and upgraded with the annual revenue generated from the 407 were still in the hands of the government; the new infrastructure that could have been funded, such as the expansion of Metrolinx and Go Transit. Short-term, poor decision making at its finest.
Over the past two years, Ontarians have been subject to a pattern of governance as follows: the appointment and hiring of individuals with few qualifications other than “being a friend of the Premier”, limited understanding of an issue compounded by arrogance and overreach, short-sighted and poorly formulated policies that benefit the few and not the many, dismissal and derision of its critics, shock at public outrage and pushback, eventual contrition and a walking-back of policy changes. Is it not time to break this cycle?
The Premier routinely dismisses so-called “elites” as being out of touch with regular people and therefore unqualified to make policy decisions. But what does he mean by “elites?” Are they not regular people, who through hard work, skill and knowledge obtained through years of experience, and a passion for life-long learning, reached the top of their field? Aren’t these the very people we want working for us? What is the virtue in hiring someone unequal to the task?
Given this government’s poor performance in its autism, long-term care, climate change, and COVID-19 portfolios, how can we accept these proposed changes without further public scrutiny? A government which misleads the people it serves, and routinely circumvents public consultation through dubious means, is neither transparent nor democratic. Such a government requires greater oversight from the people it is meant to serve. MIRANET agrees with The Canadian Environmental Law Association, which has observed “Bill 229 is the most recent in a disturbing trend of using omnibus budget measures bills to make substantial changes to environmental laws, thereby sidestepping the public’s right to comment under the Environmental Bill of Rights.”
Conservation authorities have been the guardians of our watersheds for over seventy (70) years. With little public funding, they have conducted research and provided programs and services to watershed residents. They have valiantly fought to protect the rights of present and future generations to clean air, clean water, and thriving watershed habitats. They are one of Ontario’s great success stories.
We must not allow our Provincial government to curtail the powers of our conservation authorities; they speak for us and the home we live in. It has become patently obvious that our Provincial government does not.
The Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) is concerned that as our planet is teetering on the edge of an irreversible environmental crisis, political actions are putting roadblocks in the way of long-established initiatives to protect watersheds and environmentally sensitive lands. This needs to stop! Schedule 6 has no democratic place in the proposed omnibus Budget Bill 229, tabled by the government of Ontario. The very act of burying it in a 219-page Budget Bill is suspect and appears to obfuscate transparency at a time when all eyes are understandably on Covid-19 remediation. It should be removed to allow for proper consultation with conservation authorities (CAs) and stakeholders.
This blatant appropriation of power does not improve upon the existing Act and will not achieve its stated goal of “amending the Conservation Authorities Actto improve transparency and consistency in conservation authority operations, strengthen municipal and provincial oversight and streamline conservation authority roles in permitting and land use planning.” In fact, the public would be better served by maintaining the status quo.
Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities should not be pulled into political deal making. Since 1992, their legislative power, outlined in the Conservation Authorities Act, transcended municipal and political boundaries to serve and protect critical watersheds and environmentally sensitive lands for the health and benefit of all citizens. 95% of the province’s population lives within these conservation areas. Their mandate needs to be enhanced, not curtailed. Who else will protect our life-sustaining watersheds for future generations? These proposed changes to land-use planning should not become a windfall for developers.
The government is trying to bypass scientists and technical experts for their own short-term political gain. Remove Schedule 6 in its entirety from Bill 229!
Mississauga needs a more comprehensive noise control bylaw
Monday, November 16, 2020
MIRANET has been working diligently to inform residents about its concerns regarding the city’s proposed changes to the existing Noise Control Bylaw. After engaging with the public in January and October 2020, a diverse group of participants in the consultation process (individuals, residents’ associations, MIRANET, business groups, the construction industry, past city councillors, and journalists) were unanimous in their feedback to the city: they wanted less noise. In addition to asking for the inclusion of decibel limits, they asked for the bylaw to reflect the impact of noise on human health. The proposed changes reflect none of this feedback and seemingly led to increasing noise levels instead.
It was unclear what the city hoped to achieve with their changes. The October consultations had technical issues; public input was seemingly ignored; the changes did not embrace the use of modern technology to replace auditory signalling and amplified sound, which would allow organizations to reach wider audiences with minimal noise impact; the use of free decibel level measurement apps was not explored for use in enforcement; there were no proposals for amendments to federal or provincial laws to prevent the sale and distribution of modified mufflers or car audio with settings that exceed the noise threshold for hearing loss; and worst of all, there was no funding to hire additional staff to enforce these bylaws. The entire process was an exercise in mediocrity.
On Nov. 9, MIRANET received confirmation that the city would be postponing its review of the current Noise Control Bylaw, citing COVID-19 and an expanding scope of work needed for the bylaw review. MIRANET applauds both this decision and city staff for recognizing that more work needs to be done. We hope they use this additional time for meaningful engagement with all stakeholders and the development of a thoughtful, comprehensive bylaw. A Noise Control Bylaw that balances competing stakeholder needs, identifies mitigation measures to minimize noise impacts, embraces modern technology, minimizes financial impacts to taxpayers, and supports public health objectives. As residents of a world-class city, we deserve nothing less.
In an opinion piece by the longtime Mississauga News columnist John Stewart talks about the noise heard in the city, and gives a shout-out (no pun intended) to the City’s ongoing Noise Control by-law amendments process.
MIRANET was quoted in The Mississauga News in an article about Short Term Accommodation (STA):
Sue Shanly, chair of the Mississauga Resident’s Association Network, commended the city’s efforts on putting the framework together, but expressed concerns that the operators’ fee was not high enough to maintain the enforcement program.
“It’s big business,” she said. “A lot of short-term hosts make a lot of money and to pay a small fee is just the cost of doing business.”
City Staff have recommended that the current Noise Control Bylaw be updated to address several types of unreasonable or unnecessary vehicle noise. The recommendation reads as follows:
Recommendation 6 – That Schedule One of the Noise Control By-law be updated to include a provision prohibiting drivers from making unreasonable or unnecessary noise: “A person having the control or charge of a motor vehicle shall not sound any bell, horn or other signalling device so as to make an unreasonable noise, or install a modified muffler or exhaust with the express intention to create unreasonable noise, nor shall the driver at any time operate or cause the motor vehicle to make any unnecessary noise or noise likely to disturb an inhabitant of the City of Mississauga.”
While it seems eminently reasonable to have a bylaw limiting excessive motor vehicle noise such as honking, persistent car alarms, modified mufflers, squealing tires, and loud music, it would also be reasonable to have a realistic plan to enforce such a bylaw. However, Staff have identified several obstacles to enforcement:
In order to increase existing service levels to provide Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officer (MLEO) onsite response and investigation, a significant financial investment is required. The 18 MLEOs currently employed by the City work regular business hours. These hours would need to be expanded to evenings and weekends, which would require the hiring of additional staff (See concern 1 below for further details).
If MLEOs are to have the ability to measure decibel levels of the excessive noise source, capital investments would be required. Given the financial impacts of Covid-19 on the municipal budget Staff are not recommending or pursuing such investments at this time (See concern 2 & 3 below for further details).
In the absence of investment in additional staff or decibel level measurement technology, Staff has recognized that current service levels will not satisfy public demand for greater enforcement services. Instead they have proposed a Priority Response Model, in which urgent Priority 1matters will result in an MLEO on-site investigation within 24 hours (see Table 1 below).
Under the current Nuisance Type Noise Bylaw, MLEOs have no authority to charge motorists. This means that joint vehicle enforcement operations with Peel Regional Police must use the Nuisance Type Noise Bylaw until the new Bylaw is in place.
An urgent matter that requires an MLEO to conduct an on-sire investigation. This is a matter that is outside of the permitted hours. HIGH likelihood of reoccurrence; ANDHIGH impact to residents
Within 24 hours
Construction excavation creating noise outside of permitted hoursCommercial and industrial loading and unloading noise
A non-urgent matter that requires and MLEO to conduct an on-site investigation. It is a matter that is either outside of the permitted hours or an instance of persistent noise. HIGH likelihood or reoccurrence ; ORHIGH impact to residents
Within 5 business days
Noise occurring from a malfunctioning air conditionerPersistent amplified sound from a residence within permitted timesDog barking – multiple complaints from multiple residents
A non-urgent matter that does not require an on-site investigation by an MLEO LOW likelihood of recurrence; ORLOW impact to residents
Letter may be sent out to the subject of the complaint.
An isolated backyard event such as a wedding where a complaint is entered on the following business day.
Table 1: Priority Response Model; City of Mississauga Corporate Report; June 12, 2020; Noise Control Program Review; Geoff Wright, P.Eng, MBA Commissioner of Transportation and Works
If MLEOs are to conduct joint vehicle enforcement operations with the Region of Peel Police, the proposed Bylaw must be amended so that they have the ability to charge motorists.
In order to improve Bylaw response additional MLEOs would need to be hired, for which there is currently no funding.
In order to take decibel level measurements additional equipment would need to be purchased, for which there is currently no funding.
Due to the financial impacts of Covid-19, there is currently no funding, nor will there be any funding in the foreseeable future.
In the interim, the City has proposed a Priority Response Model, for which motor vehicle noise would most likely be deemed a Priority 3. At best “a letter may be sent out to the subject of the complaint” (City of Mississauga Corporate Report, June 12, 2020) provided the complainant has the eagle-eyed ability to capture the licence plate number of a fast moving vehicle speeding away in the night.
While there may be no funding to hire MLEOs, is the deployment of a Peel Regional Police Officer an acceptable alternative? In 2019, the Region of Peel spent $445.6M on policing. This represented a total 17.8% of the Region’s operating budget (The Toronto Star, Nov. 28, 2019; Steve Cornwell). With an increase in violent crime in both Brampton and Mississauga, is this a prudent use of police resources?
The average salary of a Region of Peel Constable, First Class is $117,627; however it could be anywhere in a range of $111,880 to $145,457 (www.glassdoor.ca). That is some very expensive Bylaw enforcement – a case perhaps of penny wise, pound foolish?
Do you feel that the deployment of Peel Regional Police Officers in conjunction with Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officers (MLEOs) is an acceptable method of Bylaw enforcement?
Would you like the City to provide a cost analysis of enforcement by:
Peel Regional Police AND Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officers versus
Municipal Licensing and Enforcement Officers only?
The City of Mississauga is currently engaged in the process of reviewing the existing Noise Control Bylaws; the Mayor and Council have given City Staff a mandate to consult with the public, conduct background research, and propose recommendations for change.
Thus far Staff have conducted six public consultations in December 2019/ January 2020 with a number of stakeholders: individuals, Residents’ Associations, business groups, and the construction industry. The three major takeaways from the consultations were:
Everyone wanted less, not more, noise.
The new Noise Bylaw needed to be accompanied by meaningful enforcement which would include the measurement of decibel levels.
Health impacts of each type of noise source needed to be included in developing the proposed recommendations.
The public consultations were followed up with an online survey containing questions which were posed without any context, leading respondents to give answers which were contradictory:
76.1% of respondents voted to ban loudspeaker noise, but
65.4% agreed to exemptions
The poor wording and ambiguity of the questions resulted in a lack of meaningful granularity in the data, or put more simply: “Garbage in, garbage out.” MIRANET has questioned the use of ambiguously worded surveys that produce poor quality data. The creation of surveys and the analysis of the resulting data is a science in and of itself, which is best left to the experts.
The three virtual consultations conducted in October 2020 were less than successful, with two of the three consultations hampered by technical glitches and administrative errors which prevented eager citizens from participating. No explanations or apologies were offered and no consultations were rescheduled.
City Staff intend to present their final report and recommendations to the Mayor and Council on November 18, 2020. We have recently learnt that they will be presenting additional recommendations on this date. This means that the public will have less than one week to review these new recommendations and provide feedback to City Staff and Council.
Throughout this entire process, democratic participation and meaningful public input has been thwarted at every turn. It appears that City Staff is no longer functioning as impartial advisers to the Mayor and Council, but merely the rubber stamp needed to enact their wishes. Taking part in consultations, filling in surveys, giving deputations to Council have all become exercises in futility. Public participation in municipal democracy has devolved into the punishment of Sisyphus, with residents struggling mightily to role a rock up a hill, only to see it come crashing down again.
MIRANET would like to hear your thoughts on the proposed Noise Control Bylaw; so over the next two weeks we will be asking for your feedback on the most ill-conceived recommendations made by City Staff. We hope to provide you with meaningful context for each of these recommendations and will use your responses to get a clear picture of what residents think about these proposed changes.
The Mississauga Residents’ Association Network (MIRANET) held its 2020 annual general meeting (AGM) via a Zoom call on 16 September 2020. Out of an abundance of caution, the MIRANET executive decided that the only safe way to conduct its 2020 AGM was via the popular Zoom videoconferencing software.
The AGM was originally scheduled for April of this year but with restrictions coming into force from March, it was pushed further into the year.
After a call to order and with a quorum, current Chair Sue Shanly read out her report of MIRANET activities in the past year (2019-20). Among notable achievements were MIRANET presentations on secession from Peel Region, submission on Bill 108, review of the City’s and Region’s budgets. MIRANET met with the Fire Chief to better understand and analyze the rationale behind the construction of additional fire stations. In October 2019, member RAs organized a candidates’ debate for the federal election. In December, MIRANET made a deputation to Council and followed-up with a press release and a print article in the Peel Weekly News about AirBnB/ Short Term Accommodation. MIRANET has also been following up and contributing regularly to the City’s attempt at updating the Noise Control By-Law. MIRANET has repeatedly pointed out several procedural lapses and questioned some unnecessary changes.
Following the introduction of candidates, a vote was held. The incoming executive committee is as follows:
MIRANET EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 2020-21
1St Vice Chair
2nd Vice Chair
With input from the RAs, the incoming executives plan to focus on Civic Issues (Bill 108, LPAT, Section 37, and Charter Cities); Budgets (Municipal, Regional, Provincial, and Federal); Social Issues (Housing, Social Justice, Education, and Poverty Reduction); and, Environment and Climate Change.